A Letter to My 9 Year Old About Body Positivity

Dear Jelly Bean,

There’s a social media movement happening right now that’s gaining momentum. It has the potential to revolutionize the fashion, media, and human wellness landscape. But despite it’s current momentum, I’m sure #bodypositivity will still be a cultural uphill battle even as you enter your tween, then teen, then adult years.

The generally accepted social standards of beauty have been plastered across magazine covers and movie screens for decades and decades. As someone who looks little to nothing like the red carpet stars or social media celebrities, it can be hard. Hard to feel comfortable in the skin we’re in. Hard to accept the subtle and stubborn evidence of aging. Hard to be positive about the body that is ours alone. I know that it’s hard because it’s hard for me, too. It’s been hard my whole life.

But the thing is, it’s hard for every single person you know. No matter how straight the teeth or sculpted the triceps, we all have experienced times when it was hard – gut-wrenchingly painful even! – to be body positive.

It’s all quite odd, if you think about it. Why should it be hard to love the only body we’ll ever know? We have our whole lives to watch our feet grow, to become familiar with our moles and scars, to intimately investigate the veins across our hands and the silver streaks of marks left from serious feats of skin stretching. We are elastic. We are always moving, even when we seem completely still. We are the ultimate machines. We menstruate, a remarkable process that allows humans to make more humans. And the view from the top of our bodies is our own personal lookout. Isn’t that amazing?

We can be body positive and still demand more from our bodies. We can celebrate how we’re put together, everything from periods to pimples to pudgy bellies, and still set goals to see what else our bodies can do. They’re remarkably capable. YOUR body is remarkable.

I know that there will be times when you’ll spend an extra minute or ten at the mirror, closely inspecting the chin whisker that shows up every 28 days or searching for new changes to fuss over. When these times happen, try a thing: spend an extra minute or ten admiring the curve of your ears or searching for new changes to delight over instead. Eat food that’s delicious and healthy, move your body and see what it can do, wear clothes that you love to wear, and enjoy this ride as your body carries you through years of wonder, exploration, and discovery.




p.s. Thank you to body positive pioneers like Jade Beall (photo credit) who have been helping to create a more accepting world in which to raise our children.

jade beall photography